Marathon Training week 13 & 14 – Race week

The last few weeks of this marathon preparation have been slightly disjointed but things are finally falling into place now. At the end of week 12 I started to get a sore throat and head cold which meant I didn’t complete the week as planned and delayed my final long run.

Week 13 therefore had a different structure to most weeks of this preparation. I was planning a two week taper but missed my last long run and wanted to get this done before switching off and tapering. Week 13 went as follows;

Monday – Rest (Still sick)

Tuesday – Aerobic 45 min

Wednesday – Long Run including 4 x 5km at 4 min/km with 2 km aerobic rest between – Total 28km

Thursday – Aerobic 45 min

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Tempo run – 3 x 2km – first two 2km efforts at 3:55-4min/km, third at 3:30min/km – 1km recovery between.

The head cold I suffered returned at the end of the week and I decided to take Friday and Saturday off. The two major workouts this week were the final long run with 4 x 5km race pace or thereabouts efforts and the 3 x 2km tempo. Both these runs felt comfortable and leave me confident going into race week. Head cold is now 95% gone and I feel good about race week.

Only a  week left now till Canberra marathon and time to move into that final week taper phase. Not looking to much out there this week other then to keep the legs moving and be ready to race on Sunday. One short, fast session on Tuesday before taking it easy for the rest of the week.

Monday – Aerobic 35-40 min

Tuesday – Tempo – 3 x 1500 at race pace with 500m recovery with a  warm up and cool down.

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Aerobic 30 min

Friday – Aerobic 30 min

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Race Day

Overall happy with my preparation for this marathon. Fitness is as good as it could be and feeling motivated to give my best effort next Sunday. In some past races I have been relieved to get to the start line because the body needed a break from the training. This marathon I don’t feel that way and feel ready to race.

My goal for this marathon I to better my marathon personal best of 2 hour 57 min. The body and mind feel ready to get me there, but the marathon can be a troublesome beast and always throws a curveball your way. Looking forward to race day now.

Took a few of my aerobic runs to beach this week which was a nice run now daylight savings has finished in NSW, Australia and the sun is up a little earlier.

 

Marathon Training – Week 12

A disappointing week of marathon training this week. After putting together a few very solid weeks I started the week motivated to continue in this fashion but the week went south fairly quickly. This week I only managed to run three sessions and took four unplanned days off in a row during the week for a couple of reasons.

Monday started as planned with an aerobic run of about 40 min. Tuesday, completed my planned tempo session with 3 x 3km with 3 min recovery between each tempo effort. I averaged 4:15 min/km for this set including the recovery and the session went as planned. Wednesday morning I felt very tired and fatigued for some reason and with a wet morning decided to move my rest day forward. Thursday I was ready to run however there was torrential rain and I decided against it. I don’t mind running in rain however this was extremely heavy rain and not the weather to run an interval session in. On both Friday and Saturday I woke with illness and a slight gastro bug and decided not to run. Saturday I probably could have run but decided not to and save myself for the long run on Sunday.

My Sunday long was a planned 3 x 14km race pace effort with a 30 min rest between. It’s a session I like to do for my confidence and building mental capacity before a marathon. I was still not feeling 100% and decided against completing this session as planned. I decided on a 1 hour 45 min aerobic run followed by a race pace 60 min to finish the session. I was able to complete this session and felt really good for most of the final hour run. Part 1 of this long run was 22km followed by 13km at an average pace of 4:01 min/km or a bit faster then my marathon goal pace.

Overall not the week I wanted, short on both time and distance running for 54km. But it is what it is and we move on to next week

Monday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Tuesday – Intervals (8 x 3 min at 3:30-3:35 min/km with 1 min recovery)

Wednesday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Long Run (5 x 5km at 4:05 – 4:10 min/km with 1km recovery)

Saturday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Sunday -Tempo (4 x 3km with 2 min recovery)

 

Hopefully back to another solid week of training. Moving my missed interval session nearer to the front of the week and will probably delay my taper by a few days to fit in another last session, either tempo or interval in week 13. This week I am planning another marathon specific long run with 5 x 5km efforts at race pace or very close to it with a one kilometre jog recovery between. This will give me  30-32km session that will be my last long run before the  Canberra marathon.

While I missed a few training runs this week I didn’t dent my confidence. The soon part of my long felt quite good and this was pleasing as we are getting close to the race now.

Hope your training is progressing well.

Run well

 

My new Salming Race 5’s. These will be my marathon shoes, i’ll pot later in the week why.

 

Marathon Training – Week 11

Ten weeks of marathon training down, for weeks to go till Canberra marathon. This training cycle has gone quite quickly and in the recent weeks it has started to come together and I feel like I am getting ready to run a good marathon.

This week I gave myself a couple of days to recover from Port Macquarie Half Marathon last Sunday. This result has given me confidence that my running is on track and the motivation to push hard over the last few weeks of hard training till the marathon. Monday I felt sore in the legs and my recovery run was only 6km and fairly painful. Tuesday was a planned rest day and this was well timed as the legs were still pretty sore.

Wednesday the legs were still sore but I decided to push on with my planned hill session. Hills felt quite good once I got started and I managed to complete this session relatively comfortably.  Thursday was a flat 10km aerobic run. Legs were starting to feel better by this stage of the week. Friday was my long run day this week and I felt really good for the majority of the 2 hours 40 min I ran covering just under 33km in this session. Saturday was another aerobic run of 7km on fatigued legs from the previous days run.

Sunday I attempted a tough interval session. Goal of this session is to increase my overall speed while in a fatigued state. After a warm up I ran a 10km comprising of 4 x 2km at half marathon pace (3:45-3:50 min/km) followed by 500m hard (3:20-3:30 min/km) after each 2km. Tough part of this run is to go back to half marathon pace after a hard 500m and  recover from the effort at a high cruising speed. For the most part I was happy with this run but it certainly hurt and made me work hard.

Overall 78.5km run for the week another consistent strong week.

This week I am planning another strong week. Hoping to get my mileage up towards 90km which is about my limit currently with my work, family and study schedule.

Monday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Tuesday – Tempo (3 x 3km at 4:00- 4:05min/km with 3 min float)

Wednesday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Thursday – Intervals (8 x 3 min at 3:34-3:45 min/km 90 sec rest)

Friday – Aerobic ( 45-60 min)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Marathon specific long run (3 x 14km at goal race pace with 30 min rest)

This week there are three significant sessions to begin to peak my training towards the marathon. Hills have been replaced by tempo for the remainder of the preparation. Strength work is now completed and it’s time to  peak my speed and endurance for the marathon.

Tempo session on Tuesday is relatively straight forward with three tempo efforts to work on my marathon cruising speed. This pace should feel relatively comfortable in my current condition.

Intervals on Thursday is another key session to build speed. Keeping these efforts relatively long and more specific with marathon training. 3 min at good pace with a rest of 90 sec to lower my heart rate and get me ready for the next. Eight of these efforts will be a challenge but one I should be able to handle.

A session I like to do three weeks from a goal marathon is this 3 x 14km with 30 min rest between at goal race pace. I haven’t decided what goal race pace is yet but it will be 4:10 min/km or slightly lower. Aiming to beat my marathon best of 2 hours 57 min. This session is hard, very hard but when I nailed this session three week before Seoul marathon I knew I was going to run my best race. This session is as much about building speed and endurance as it is about building confidence. This is a session I am already anxious about running next week.

Looking forward to another good training week.

Run well.

 

 

Marathon Training – Week 7

Week 6 of marathon training was a disjointed week and the schedule changed from what was planned. Travelling for work early in the week left me fatigued mid week and I had to reassess the plan as the week unfolded.

Running went to plan while I travelled for work with runs in Penrith in Sydney. Aerobic on Monday and intervals on Tuesday were run to plan. After a few weeks of longer (3 min) intervals I enjoyed the shorter intervals at 1 min and had fun with this session. Albeit I ran it mostly in an industrial area as I wasn’t sure of where I was running.

Took a rest day on Wednesday as I was feeling fatigued instead of cycling. Thursday with my long run planned I woke up early with a bad headache and it was very hot and humid. Didn’t have a long effort in me this day so I took another unscheduled rest day.

From here I changed the schedule up so i can fit in my hills and long run into the week. Friday I ran hills over my usual terrain. Still hot and humid this was an uncomfortable run. Saturday I ran a short aerobic run followed by 2 hour long run on Sunday before I went to work. Normally I don’t run long runs before work but needed to get this one in. Overall this meant my running went quite good for the week but no cycling or swimming this week.

Sometimes you do have to change the plan when things don’t go to plan and taking the two rest days meant the quality of my runs was better later in the week.

Week 7 now and after this week we are half way through the scheduled plan. Starting to feel like my running is coming together. The triathlon side of things isn’t going to plan this week and I may reassess and abandon plans for the Ironman 70.3 race, will decide this in the next week or so whether to continue or whether to just focus on the marathon only.

Week 7

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Run – Hills – 1 hour ( 3 x 2km repeats)

Wednesday – Bike – Aerobic 1 hour

Thursday – Run – Intervals 1 hour ( 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest)

Friday – Bike – Aerobic 1 hour

Saturday – Run – Long Run 2 hour 30 min (Including 3 x 5km at 4:20 min/km threshold)

Sunday – Run – Aerobic 45min – 1 hour

During Thursday’s interval session I am increasing the rest component from the previous week. Aim of this session is to run each effort below 3:30 min/km with increasing the rest to assist I am able to give my best effort every interval.

Long run on Saturday needs to hit 2 hour 30 min. Within each of the first three 45 min periods I will run 5km at my threshold pace. Will try and keep this run over a relatively flat terrain.

Looking forward to another strong week of building towards the Canberra Marathon. Feeling like my training is heading in the right direction currently and want to keep this feeling. Feeling ready to run when you step on the start line is a big advantage for later when the race becomes a mental battle.

Train well, run well.

reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your running.

Photos from week 6 of marathon training

 

Four discoveries from a 30 day run streak

This morning I completed my 30 day run streak and during this time I made some discoveries about my running. Here they are…..

  1. Aerobic training is beneficial

At the start of the run streak I decided that all my running in these 30 days would be aerobic and I would forget about pace. On the whole I was able to manage this only running twice outside my aerobic capacity. This was a parkrun effort and last weeks goal race pace half marathon run.

Running purely aerobically for the majority of the 30 days has seen me develop my aerobic capacity. Running aerobically often is easy on the body and recovery is simple, when you run within your limits there is no soreness the next day and you are able to run more. Following this when I did increase the intensity and complete a tougher workout, my half marathon felt very comfortable. Building the aerobic engine is very beneficial for running performance.

The take away from this discovery is that during my next focussed training block I will have more aerobic training to compliment the focussed harder workouts.

   2. Technology is unnecessary (almost)

Another goal of this run streak was to divorce pace and use perceived effort to measure my run rather achieve a pace for the run. This has been a successful discovery where I am now unconcerned by the pace my watch is saying and rather the feeling my body gives me from the effort I output.

During each of the runs I have only looked at the time for the run on the watch and not pace. This has taught me to focus on my feeling and breathing to stay aerobic and run consistent pace through effort. During the harder half marathon effort the same applied and I was impressed by the consistent pace I was able to achieve.

The future of my running will feature less reliance on technology, I am committed to continuing to monitor my running by feel and use the data to analyse post run.

3. Running everyday is good for you

While I am normally an advocate for rest days, life balance and letting the body recover from runs I found the task of running everyday good for me. All my runs are completed in the early mornings and the simple task of committing to getting up each morning and going through the process to get out the door and run was mostly pretty easy.

During the 30 day streak I had wet weather on 5-6 of my runs, only one of these days did I consider not running through the rain, however this doubt lasted about 15 minutes before I decided to get the job done.

I enjoyed the day to day commitment of getting out the door to complete my run. Committing to a run streak is a way to challenge you to overcome a small challenge everyday and start the day ready to tackle something bigger if it arises.

4. Minimal footwear is better

This may have not been a discovery but more a reinforcement. Every run I did with the exception of one run were completed in zero drop footwear. these specifically were Gladsoles sandals both the trail 8mm and new 6mm and Carson Footwear Iguana Racers.

If you are fully transitioned to barefoot running then minimal footwear is better for your running. After 4-5 days of the run streak I had a slight pain in my right calf that was evident for a few runs, this went away by itself and I was able to run without pain for the  all the other runs. Minimal footwear keeps you aware, your feet stronger and running with better technique. To run injury free for long periods of time these are important. Without trying to jinx myself to an injury I believe the benefits of transitioning to minimal shoes will help me run longer into my life.

Don’t be scared to make a change to your footwear if you are on a path of consistent injuries. It will take time but it will be worth it.

Overall the run streak has been an enjoyable experience and most likely will continue beyond 30 days. My routine of running every morning is a habit I would like to continue.

Photos from a 30 day run streak

 

Things to do when transitioning to barefoot running

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In a recent post I listed the reasons why you should be barefoot running, however how do you transition? The main barefoot running transition question people as is how long will is take? This is different for everyone and may take as little as a couple of months or much longer. In order to give yourself the best chance of transitioning successfully and without injury the following tips may help.

If you take the time to transition correctly and build the strength and mobility needed to barefoot run long term you will reap the benefits down the track.

Be Patient

If you are an accomplished runner and have decided to transition to a flatter more minimal shoe or to barefoot running then it is difficult to stomach that you may only be able to run for very short periods for the first weeks or months. Patience is essential to avoid injury. For the first few weeks you should be combining walking and running either barefoot or in minimal shoes and running for no longer then 10 minutes working up to 30 minutes at a timely the end of the first month.  This will require patience and humility if you are used to running for much further.

Be ‘barefoot’ in everyday life

Increasing the time you walk barefoot will assist in building strength in your lower limbs and feet that are essential for barefoot running. Look to purchase some minimal shoes for work or casual life and try and be barefoot when at home. This will increase your mobility of the muscles that need to be retrained in order for injury free barefoot running.

Concentrate on your form

While you are transitioning to barefoot running concentrate on your form. Concentrate on landing on the balls of your feet, stay upright, don’t over stride and stay light on your feet. This will make sure you use the muscles associated with barefoot running and give them the best chance to gain mobility and strength.

You may choose to continue to run some mileage in your ‘old’ cushioned running shoes, especially if you are a seasoned runner. This is perfectly fine however make sure you concentrate on your form even in your cushioned shoes and retrain the body to run on your forefeet.

Listen to your feet

When you start running barefoot or in minimal shoes it is essential you look for the signs that you are overdoing it. It is normal to experience a small amount of pain in the calves, achilles and feet however too much and you may need to reduce the mileage and take longer to transition. This is a key sign of taking the time necessary to transition successfully and avoiding injury. Be prepared to have a long term view if the pain is experienced.

Use these simple tips and ask for advice if things don’t go to plan. Every runners barefoot transition is different and will therefore the process for each runner may be different.

If you have successfully transitioned to barefoot running  how did you do it?

What obstacles did you need to overcome, and how did you do it?

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The road is a long one, be patient

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The top 4 reasons you should be barefoot running

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While barefoot running has faded somewhat from the mass media attention it was receiving a few years ago there are still some very valid reasons why you should be running barefoot.

By barefoot running we mean running without shoes or in minimal footwear. By minimal footwear we mean shoes with the following attributes. Low heel to toe differential or heel drop, wide toe box and less cushioning and flexible materials. There are many different minimal footwear options available today.

Transitioning to barefoot running takes time. If you try to rush the process, you may suffer injuries in the calves or achilles. Be sure not to rush the process, it may take months or even years. Once your transition is complete your running will benefit.

The four top reasons you should be barefoot running are;

  1. Reduced injuries

Once you have transitioned to barefoot running you will likely run lighter, with a forefoot landing over a bent knee. This will ensure that you suffer less lower limb related injuries related to running. While barefoot running is not a panacea to injury free running it will go a long way to helping you run consistently more without injuries. Cushioned shoes won’t stop you getting injured, most likely they are the cause.

     2. Stronger feet

Running in an inflexible, cushioned shoe will inhibit the natural movement of your foot. The shoe does the work which the foot is designed to do, this will weaken your feet over time. Running barefoot or in flatter, more flexible footwear will build strength in your feet and lower limbs.  With strong feet comes a strong platform to run successfully and run injury free.

    3 Better awareness

” The more minimal you are the more aware you are” Chris McDougall

With more awareness comes better ground feel. While running you will become more aware of your posture,  foot landing, surroundings and effort. More awareness of your foot landing means you will be aware of every step and how and what you land on. This is a key reason why accomplished barefoot runners can run injury free as their awareness for where their foot lands is greater. Simply put running barefoot allows for more sensory feedback which increases awareness.

    4. Get faster

Forefoot running is faster than heel striking, pretty simple. Landing on your heel with a straight leg gives a braking effect, landing on your forefoot with a bent leg is faster and a more efficient way to run. If you want to get faster barefoot running can help you achieve this.

Transitioning to barefoot running is important, be patient and don’t rush the process however slow it may be. Once you successfully transition you will be free of heavy, inflexible running shoes and your running will become transformed.

If you wear traditional cushioned running shoes and have suffered injuries, it’s time to rethink your running footwear. Taking them off or replacing them with minimal shoes could be the answer.

 

 

 

 

My divorce with pace – Day 4

Earlier this week I committed to a month of running where I divorced myself from pace. Or at least committed to not monitoring pace during my runs. My watch has been set to a single data only of time to measure to monitor the length of my runs only.

Being overly reliant on technology is an easy trap to make for the modern runner and a trap that I have fallen into at times. My goal for this month of running is to enjoy my running and divorce myself from needing technology to measure my pace on any runs.

When I started running there weren’t GPS watches, I measured my runs simply on feel and perceived effort. I was still able to train and race as well as I do today without technology. My goal is to get back to this level of feel before I start training for another race so that I am ready to train without the burden of technology. Technology will be used to analyse my effort post run.

I guess you could call this the next step in my minimalist running transition. The transition to minimal footwear has enlightened my running and I believe a minimalist approach to technology will do the same.

During these four days of running all my runs have been easy aerobic runs. I have resisted looking at pace or any other metrics during these runs. I have also resisted pushing the pace on these runs and ensured the pace was easy.

What have I noticed in four runs?

  1. I’ve looked at my watch a whole lot less

2.  There is scenery around me everywhere

3. The mind works better with less distractions

So far the divorce from pace has been a positive experience. Looking beyond the next month where the pace will remain aerobic, I aim to continue this approach to when I resume with my three keys weekly runs being the long run, intervals and hill repeats during my next race preparations.

Just some of the scenery I was able to take in during my last four runs.

 

How to run a 1 second parkrun PB

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In a recovery week following my recent marathon I decided this week to get my running routine back to some normality and decided this weeks training end to test myself at parkrun on Saturday (today) and back to a longer run Sunday. I also decided to visit my neighbouring town  about 20 minutes drive away, Wauchope for their park run as I have only been there once and enjoy the course. The course is a nice two lap course, with one lap shorter than the other along the river which is relatively flat apart from one hill which you run once on each lap.

My previous effort there was a 17:37, which at the time I was surprised and happy to be able to run on this course. My goal for this visit was to run hard and test my fitness, run consistent from start to finish and see what happens. All my fastest parkrun times have come when my splits are consistent. I am a firm believer in this strategy for races of every distance.

Whenever I race, I break my race into thirds. Beginning, middle and end. In the beginning I try to be patient, in the middle I try to be disciplined and in the end I try to give my best effort. I use this strategy to keep my running consistent, however even though you want the splits to be the same the effort levels will change through the race.

Today, I was able to beat my previous time on this course by one second and run 17:36. My kilometre splits  were 3:31, 3:35, 3:31, 3:40 & 3:28 for an average pace of 3:33 min/km for the 5km.Happy to keep my pacing relatively consistent today. The fourth kilometre is a tough one on this course with two hairpin turns and the hill to contend with I lost a little bit of time here. Running felt good today though, I was patient enough to be able to control my running in the first kilometre, use some disciplined pacing in the middle of the race and gave my best effort and pushed hard near the end.

Overall a good  way to start my running this weekend. Looking forward to getting back out to this parkrun again soon. It’s been an enjoyable run both times I’ve run here.

 

Running without racing.

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Last Sunday’s marathon was the culmination of training towards a goal race and despite the challenges that unfolded during the race I am happy with my overall effort. This race was the culmination of 14 weeks training which is my normal plan for a marathon or longer race.

Last Sunday’s marathon was also likely the culmination of my racing year, with not many races left before the end of the year and certainly very few close to home. This means it’s time to switch gears with my training and enjoy my running with less focussed training towards trying to peak for a race. At times not having a race to train for has been a time when my running has suffered. I have struggled with the lack of focus and specificity and too much ice cream and skipped runs.

These days I have running without racing plans which keep me running regularly and enjoying my running without the pressure and challenge of a race in the not too distance future. This plan starts with continuing to run a similar amount of times per week and using variety in my running to keep focussed.

During October I plan to continue with my three key workouts each week, these are hill repeats, intervals and the long run however each will have far less focus. Hills will likely be similar, intervals shorter with more recovery and the long run shorter and not building time each week. Continuing to focus on these runs will keep my fitness ready for when my next race preparation starts. In addition to these will see some varying terrain and locations to keep my running interesting. to add variety I like using a weighted vest for some short runs, or efforts during runs. Skipping an aerobic run for a weighted vest hike is another option for easy days.

Adding variety can also be done by changing up footwear. As the weather gets warmer I like to use my favourite running location, the beach for some barefoot intervals and aerobic runs. GladSoles Sandals will still be my go to footwear for most of my runs though. And I will use my Carson footwear trail shoes for when I want some variety. These are the best shoes I’ve run in without socks, which is great for the beach and when the weather is hot.

The main focus while I’m running without racing is enjoy my running, add variety that isn’t achieved when training for a race and relax without the pressure of training hard.

Summer in Australia it’s certainly the best time to be outdoors enjoying the place we live. It’s a great time for relaxed running and enjoying the surrounds. I’m looking forward to running without the need for racing for the next few months, and enjoying my running.